Nycholas Ewstas (c1495-1533), English Progenitor, 52 Ancestors #28

Nycholas, or Nicholas, was the first Estes we can document, even though the name then was spelled as Ewstas.  At that time, the U and W in the English language were synonymous and spelling was not yet standardized.  Most people were illiterate, so spelling didn’t matter one bit.  Clerks spelled names as they heard them.

Nicholas was born about 1495, possibly in Deal, Kent, England.  We just don’t know.  We haven’t found his christening in any of the local churches because baptismal records weren’t kept until nearly 65 years later.  Baptism, marriage and death records were not kept in England until Queen Elizabeth ordered that records be maintained by the churches beginning in 1559.  Fortunately, St. Leonard’s Church in Deal has individual records from that date and historical records from earlier.  But that doesn’t help us with Nicholas’ birth date.

All was not peaceful in Deal and surrounding area in 1495, about the time Nicholas would have been born.  According to Gregory Holyoake in his book, Deal, All in the Downs, a war was taking place in 1495.

Perkins Warbeck, the personator of Richard, younger son of Edward IV, one of the two princes presumed murdered in the Tower of London, arrived with his army in the Small Downs on July 3, 1495.  The Pretender, promoted as “The White Rose of England” intended rousing the support of the Kentishmen in his claim to the throne as Richard IV.  Warbeck had sailed from Vlissingen on July 2, confident that the men of Kent – Yorkish in their inclination – would support him against the Lancastrian King, Henry VII.  Instead, the Kentishmen hotly defended their country from these presumptuous invaders.

Trained bands from Sandwich ambushed Warbeck’s army in the Sandhills and captured most of the leaders who were then tried in London.  Afterwards they were executed and hung in chains “for seamarks or lighthouses” along the coast.  Henry VII commended his loyal subjects and commanded beacons to be built in celebration across Kent.

Perhaps Nicholas’ parents, especially a very pregnant wife, sought refuge in another location and Nicholas was baptized in a church elsewhere.  Every village had a church.

If it weren’t for his will, in 1533, we wouldn’t even know Nicholas’ name, or the first name of his wife, Anny.

Nicholas’ will was dated January 1, 1533/34.  This year is written in the old style/new style date.

From 1087 to 1155 the English year began on 1 January, and from 1155 to 1751 on 25 March.  In 1752 it was moved back to 1 January.  Even before 1752, 1 January was sometimes treated as the start of the new year – for example by Pepys – while the “year starting 25th March was called the Civil or Legal Year.”  To reduce misunderstandings on the date, it was not uncommon in parish registers for a new year heading after 24 March, for example 1661, to have another heading at the end of the following December indicating “1661/62”. This was to explain to the reader that the year was 1661 Old Style and 1662 New Style.

But back to Nicholas.  He left his estate to his wife, Anny, one child, Sylvester and to an unknown person, Felyx Beane.

The Beane name is interesting.  I found it in the records of at least 4 early Estes families in Kent, some of whom can be tied together and some who cannot.  I suspect that the Bean family is related to the Estes family and possibly before Nicholas’ generation.

We may not know where Nicholas was born, or when, but we know when and where he died, because his will called for him to be buried in the churchyard of “Saynt Leonard in the parisshe of Deale.”

We don’t know if Sylvester was actually Nicholas’ only child, or the only child he mentioned in the will.  We know that Sylvester was born in 1522, so Nicholas’s marriage date is estimated in 1520 and his birth then estimated as 1495. Of course, Sylvester might not have been the first child born. And if Sylvester was their only living child, their lives must have been full of heartache, burying baby after baby, at least half a dozen.

All of the Estes descendants today who can track their genealogy back to Kent, descend from Nicholas in some way, excepting adoptions and such.  This has been confirmed by DNA testing.

In 1495, surnames were established, but hadn’t been established for a long time.  They began to be used by the wealthy after the Norman invasion in 1066, were in common use by the 1200s, and by the middle of the 1400s, pretty much everyone, rich and poor, had a surname.  It’s likely that Nicholas wasn’t the first Estes man to carry that surname, but we don’t know.  Thankfully, he did leave a will.

nicholas estes will

Roy Eastes has this will transcribed and translated.  It is written in a medieval script called secretarial script.  To me, it simply looks like scribbles.  In fact, it could be my own handwriting!

Will of Nicholas Ewstas

In dei no’ie Amen, the xviith day of June the yere of our Lorde mlcccccxxxiiith, I Nycholas Ewstas beyng of hole mynd and remembraunce ordeyne and make this my last Wyll and Testament in manner and form folowyng

Fyrst I bequethe my soule to Almyghty God, our Lady Siynte Mary and all the holy company of Hevyn and my body to be buryed in the church yerde of Saynte Leonarde in the parisshe of Deale.

Also I bequethe to the hygh aulter for my tythes undelygently forgotten viiid.

Item I wyll that my wyffe cause to be dun at the day of my buryall v mases with placebs and dirige and as many at my monthes mynde.

Item I bequethe to Sylvester my sone one ewe and a yong horsse.

Item I bequethe to Felyx Beans one ewe.

The resydue of all my goodes, moveables and unmoveables I wyll and bequethe to Anny Ewstas my wyff whom I make sole Executrix of this my last Wyll and Testament the yere and day above rehersyd.

Wytnessys beyng present and requyred Robert Whyte, John Myselson


In the name of God, Amen, the 17 day of June the year of our Lord 1533 I, NYCHOLAS EWSTAS, being of whole mind and remembrance ordain and make this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following,

First, I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, our Lady Saint Mary and all the holy company of heaven and my body to be buried in the church yard of Saint Leonard in the parish of Deal.

Also I bequeath to the high alter for my tithes undiligently forgotten 8 pence.

Item, I will that my wife cause to be done at the day of my burial five masses with placebos and dirige and as many at my month’s mind.

Item I bequeath to Sylvester, my son, one ewe and a young horse.

Item I bequeath to Felix Beans one ewe.

The residue of all my goods, moveables and unmoveables I will and bequeath to Anny Ewstas my wife whom I make sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament the year and day above rehersed.

Witnesses being present and required

Robert Whyte, John Myselson

We need to remember that Nicholas and family were Catholic, because the Protestant reformation and associated political difficulties had not yet taken place in England.  They were yet to occur in the Reign of Henry VIII in the 1530s.

The Catholic faith of that time placed a lot of importance on leaving money to the church, the more the better, for special prayers that were meant to pray one’s soul out of purgatory and into Heaven, more quickly.

Later generations of Estes men were mariners, including Nicholas’ son, Sylvester, but it doesn’t appear that Nicholas was a mariner.  He left nothing nautical, just sheep and a horse.

I do have to laugh though at his commentary about his tythes (taxes) being “undiligently forgotten.”  He must not have expected he would die, or he wouldn’t have been so forgetful.  His conscience must have been plaguing him.  The health and afterlife location of one’s soul depended in that time and place upon enough prayers being said on your behalf…and no one in the church was going to pray for a man who forgot to pay his tythes.  This also tells us that he must have had some money – he wasn’t destitute because he had money to pay his back tithes and to leave additional funds to the church.

It’s ironic that one of the only records we have of his son is from the Court of Canterbury.  Want to guess the subject?  A case was brought against him for not paying his tithes for 2 or 3 years.  Apparently “forgetting” tithes runs in the family.

It’s interesting that another very early record is of a Richard Eustace buried in the church in Dover in 1506, leaving a wife, Alice, and unborn child.  His will was witnessed by a Thomas Eustace.  Richard appeared to be a wealthy man, probably a merchant.  Not only was he buried inside the church, but he left quite a bit of money for special prayers.  We have no idea what happened to his wife, or child, if it survived, but we know that he wasn’t in our direct line because Nicholas was born about 1495, too late to be his father and too early to be his son.  Richard could have been a brother, nephew, uncle or cousin to our Nicholas – or maybe entirely unrelated.  However, Dover is just 6 miles or so from Deal.

However, it does tell us that there were other Estes in the region before Nicholas, or at least contemporaneous with him.

Estes Trails editor and family researcher Larry Duke explained some of the more unusual provisions in Nicholas’ will as follows:

His reference to his monthemynde (monthmade) is the same as our birthday. The saying of a mass for the deceased, in their memory, on their birthday, is still a common practice in the Catholic Church. The only other observation that could be made about Nicholas’ will, is that it was uncommon to name ones wife as executor. Normally, this duty was left to ones oldest brother or oldest son. His naming Anny could mean that he had no living brothers or none nearby. [His son] Sylvester was too young, being only about 11 years old.

We know that Nicholas was buried in the cemetery at St. Leonard’s Church in Deal, although his grave has probably been recycled.  We can say with certainly that there is no stone today, if there ever was one.  Gravestones in England were not welcomes in churchyards until about 1650.  The stone for Moses Estes in 1708 is the oldest Estes stone, although we could speculate that Nicholas is probably buried fairly close to the church itself, based on Moses burial location in 1708, some 175 years later.

Come on, let’s take a walk around the churchyard.  Nicholas has to be here someplace!

It’s difficult to photograph the church because you can’t really get far enough away without obstructions.  Jim and I walked back from the church at Shoulden and this is St. Leonard’s Church from the round-about in front.

st leonard roundabout

We enter the churchyard, which is the cemetery, through the wall.

st leonard's wall

Tombstones are scattered throughout the property.

st leonard's front

It’s interesting that for the most part, strangers weren’t buried here.  There are records of a “Stranger’s Burial Ground” where the bodies of drowned sailors thrown up on the foreshore were buried.  It had been used since 1668, at the far end of St. Patrick’s road, but has since been used for building modern homes.  I have to wonder if they are haunted and if the residents know their homes are literally on the graves.

st leonard's south

Half of the walkway through and around the cemetery is paved, and the other half has stones, at least part way.  The path is to the right of the church, on the south side, and the paved walkway is to the left, if facing the front door, or on the North side.  Note that the walkway crosses several graves.

st leonard's north

Every nook and cranny has burials.

st leonard's stone path

Church records show that the church purchased the walled area called Church Path at the end of the 1700s, once called Stone Lane, which served as the parish cemetery until Deal Cemetery was opened.  Church Path is today a road that leads directly from Lower Deal to the St. Leonard’s Church north doorway, right where Moses Estes’ stone lies.

st leonard's north addition

You know that the vacant spots aren’t vacant – just unmarked.  Our Nicholas lies in one of them, or his grave has been reused.  Still, his remains are here someplace.  The cemetery has been used for hundreds of years.  The earliest marked burial is dated 1675.  In 1690, the skull and crossbones appears for the first time.

st leonard's north yard

There are even burials inside the church, in the aisle ways – which was an honor reserved for only the most wealthy and important church members.

st leonard's floor burial

In fact, this entire church aisle is graves – right down the middle.  This is typical in English churches of this age.


We know our family isn’t inside, so let’s go back outside and walk around the church.  We’re going out the side door that was added when the North wing was expanded in 1819.  This was after Moses Estes was buried in 1708, and the walk to the “new door” lays right across his grave.  I guess if you can’t afford to be buried inside, then being buried in the walkway on the way to the door is probably second best.  Everyone walks by your grave and visits you every Sunday!

st leonard's moses estes

The tombstone of Moses Estes, complete with skull and crossbones, above, rests in the side yard of the church.  You can see the north door close to his grave.

st leonard's north door

Some burials are fenced and in crypts.  You can see behind this one that an old door has been bricked in.

st leonard's crypts

st leonard's towards back

Rounding the side of the church to the back, above.

st leonard's rear

At the back of the church, we can see the nave with the 3 windows.  This is the original part of the church, covered with flint.

st leonard's wall stones

Here, as in most old churches in England, many stones have been “rearranged” along the outer wall for ease of maintenance, especially when they are no longer legible.

st leonard's outside nave

It’s a stunningly beautiful church.  The wing to the right is where Moses is buried.  You can see the “seam” of the addition.  I wonder if Nicholas is actually buried under the church afterall, by virtue of the extension.

st leonard's rear burials

It’s certain that the ashes of Nicholas rest someplace in these photos.

The House of Este

There has been a great deal of speculation that the Estes family descended from the House of Este in Italy.  Part of this is due to the fact that the Estes family in England firmly believed this, in part, because the monarchy believed it.  King James I of England and Scotland was convinced that a gentleman in his service by the name of East was in fact a descendent of the d’Este family and suggested he change his name to Este.  One didn’t argue with the King, and I have to wonder if the King thought that for a reason.  In other words, he may have been right.

este castle ferrara

Painting of Este Castle in Ferrara, Italy.

David Powell reports that even earlier, one Thomas Estes (1540-1608), an Englishman who published Italian music, used the names of East, Est, Este and Easte and hinted at a connection with the famous Italian d-Este family.  Of course, it might have been beneficial to his career.

The Estes family has spent decades trying to figure out if there is any truth to this story or if it is just a wishful myth.  Frankly, it seems unlikely given that the Estes men were primarily mariners in Kent, after Nicholas, and there is no firm trail from Italy to Kent, from the d’Este line to the Estes line.  But still, we can’t prove a negative, at least in this case, not without DNA testing.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any Estes male from the d’Este family.  They apparently daughtered out, except for one possible line, that no longer carries the Estes or d’Este surname.

Roy Eastes, in his book, “Estes Families of America,” did a fine job of distilling the rumors and various stories into something cohesive.

One of the most popular theories is that Nicholas descended from of the House of Estes of northern Italy. The House of Este was very famous during the Renaissance and the evidence of their history can be seen yet today in the splendor of their famous Palaces and Gardens.

castelo estence ferrara

The Castello Estense in Ferrara, Italy

The surname Este came from a small town by that name in the Providence of Ventia in northern Italy. In ancient times, before the birth of Christ, it was known as Ateste.

History shows that the town was a Roman stronghold and military base. However, in este castle closeup589 AD after a severe flooding of the Adigo River, the town was abandoned and re-inhabited at a later time. In this town, Albert Azzo II was born in the year 996. This great Roman adopted the name of the town and started the House of Este. This line has been passed down through the years to modern days.

este castle este

The House of Este held the city Este until 1240 when they moved their capital to Ferrara.

Probably the most contributing factor that has led to the belief in the Este/Estes connection was a book published in 1894. This book, “Estes Genealogies” – was written by Charles Estes, of Warren, Rhode Island.

The following is an extract from that book:

“Upon looking back at the early days of our ancestry, we find unlike other tribal histories in their incipiency, so little in the Este that is condemnatory and so much that is worthy of praise. We have no reason to be otherwise than proud. “

“We here present the letter of Richard Taylor, M.D., to Rev. Charles F. Deems, which will give some idea of the history of the Este family in what shall follow:”

 “From The New York Watchman”

 “Rev Deems: In reading your paper some times since, I noticed some verses written by Mr. Alston Bacon Estes. The name recalled some recollections of researches undertaken by my father many years ago, when becoming interested in the family, he sought to trace its history, which is both curious and interesting. Thinking you might be pleased to know it, I give it to you in as few of words as possible.                                                                Richard Taylor, M.D.”

“About the year 1097, Albert Azzo II, Marquis of Liquria was born (actually 996- 1097) and his history is commensurate with the lapse of the 11th century. He was the acknowledged founder of the houses of both Este and Brunswick the former were conspicuous in Italy as late as the middle of the 18th century when their direct line failed with the death of Hercules III, he being the twenty-second generation from Azzo II; the latter (House of Brunswick) after centuries of time, emerge from their quiet stations as Dukes of Brunswick and Hanover, and occupy the most prominent positions in Europe as British Kings.”

“One branch however, of the Italian family exists in America. The Marquis Aldobrandino, about the middle of the 14th century, in order to procure means for prosecuting a war against the Auconites, hypothecated (pledged) his younger brother to the usurers (money lenders) of Florence. The untimely death of the Marquis put an end to the war but left his brother unredeemed. These were the sons of Azzo VI. The younger brother did not return to his ancestral home on the accession of the seventh Azzo (another older brother) but proceeded to France, thence to England, where he became acquainted with the family of Lord Bacon, then moved from England to Wales, always maintaining a position of influence and respectability, inheriting the distinguishing traits of character and talents possessed by their ancestors. From Wales they immigrated to Virginia. “

“The name Este is derived from a colony planted in the seventh century of Rome, about fifteen miles to the south of the City of Pudau, and called Ateste, or Este a name known in history 136 years B.C. This is the surname the Marquises of Liquria assumed in the beginning of the fourteenth century, namely Marquises of Este, and their descendants, have ever since assumed the surname, Este. The name written Estes is plural, and was used to represent the whole family; thus Byron, in his Parisina speaks of the Estes:

“And if she sets in Este’s bower,
“Tis not for the sake of its full bloom flower:”

 – or is meant to convey, belonging to the family. The name is more frequently written Estes than as it should be, Este.”


“You will see by the above that the Estes name represents a family, one of the oldest and also one of the most illustrious, living in the world; though short, this will give you an inkling of the American Estes’ and show you that the antique brood of Este is still in existence.”

<<<<<   End of Extract   >>>>>

 ducal palace modena

Ducal Palace in Modena built in 1634 by Francesco d’Este.

David Powell provides another glimpse at that favorite family rumor in his paper, “Origins of the Estes/Eastes Family Name.”

“…The Marquis Aldobrandino, about the beginning of the 14th century, in order to procure means for prosecuting a war against the Anconites, hypothecated his youngest brother to the usurers of Florence. The untimely death of the Marquis put an end to the war and left his brother unredeemed. These were the sons of Azo VI (of d’Este). The younger brother did not return to his ancestral home on the accession of the seventh Azo, but proceeded to France, thence to England where he became acquainted and connected with the family of Lord Bacon. The family then moved from England to Wales, always maintaining a position of influence and respectability … From Wales they emigrated to Virginia.”

We know for sure that part of this is incorrect – the sailing for Virginia from Wales portion.  We have that information and will be discussing Abraham Estes and his embarkation for America in a future article.

However, there’s more:

“…Francesco of Este, who was the son of Marquis Leonello [1407-1450], left Ferrara [1471] to go and live in Burgundy, by the will of Duke Ercole [Francesco’s uncle, who succeeded Leonello] .. and, in order that he should go at once, he gave him horses and clothes and 500 ducats more; and this was done because His Excellency had some suspicions of him .. ‘Francesco .. went to Burgundy and afterward to England’. These were the words written on the back of the picture of Francesco found in a collection of paintings near Ferrara.”

Many of the details are similar to the earlier story. But why would Francesco flee Italy? In 1471 Francesco’s brother, Ericolo, led a revolt in an attempt to overthrow Duke Ercole. The attempt was unsuccessful and in typical royal tradition, Ericolo lost his head and Francesco exiled, if only because he was Ericolo’s brother. Did Francesco really travel to England? The only evidence for this is the writing in the back of the painting, the existence of which is unconfirmed. Essentially the same story is told by Charles Estes in his book:

“.. Francesco Esteuse (born c.1440), the illegitimate son of Leonnello d’Este. Francesco was living in Burgundy. In the time of Duke Borso he came to Ferrara, and at Borso’s death was declared rebellious by Ercole because of efforts made by his brother, Ericolo, to seize power. Francesco returned to Burgundy and was heard of no more from that time (1471). As the time coincided with that when Edward conquered [sic] England with the aid of Burgundy, it was possible that Francesco followed Edward and after Edward’s victory made England his home.”

 David goes on to say:

If Francesco did travel to England, it would have been around 1480, leaving sufficient time for him to have fathered Nicholas and possibly also Richard and Thomas Eustace of Dover. Indeed, Francesco’s father was Niccola, or, in English, Nicholas.

In the end, David concludes that the myth is probably just that.  However, that opinion is not shared by all Estes researchers.

Kitty Estes Savage, in her article, “Saints and Sinners’ in the December 1998 edition of Estes Trails tells us a little more about the alleged painting:

Duke Ercole’s next goal was to get rid of Francesco, Niccolo’s half-brother, so he bribed him because he was suspicious of him and “because he was much loved by the people because of his courtesy and liberality and also because he was a handsome well-disposed young man”. He gave him a monthly stipend, and “in order that he go at once, he gave him horses and clothes, and five hundred ducats more”.

Francesco left Ferrara on 15 September 1471. No more is known about him except that his portrait hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City with this inscription on the back: “Francesco, natural son of Leonello went to Burgundy and afterwards England.”

francesco d'este

I checked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art about the portrait of Francesco d’Este, which they do own, shown above, and here is the information provided about the portrait.

The sitter for this striking portrait is Francesco d’Este, illegitimate son of Leonello d’Este, ruler of Ferrara. In 1444, Francesco was sent to the Netherlands, where he received his education and military training at the court of Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. He was educated with Philip’s son, Charles de Charlerois (later Charles the Bold), and became a permanent chamberlain to the duke, acting frequently as an envoy to Italy. This portrait was painted in the Netherlands about 1460, when Francesco was around thirty years old. The hammer and ring he holds may be prizes won for a jousting victory, or symbols of his office and power. On the verso of the panel are painted the splendid coat of arms and crest of the Este family, quartered with the honor bestowed on the house of Este in 1432 by Charles VII of France. Above and below the armorials is the inscription, which reads, in part: “entirely yours, marquis of Este, Francesco.” This apparent dedication suggests that the portrait was not kept by the sitter but was presented by him to a close acquaintance or member of the court as a gift of friendship. The portrait was painted by Rogier van der Weyden, who undertook a number of portrait commissions for members of the Burgundian court, while the verso was probably painted by a workshop assistant.

There is no mention of the inscription reported, but there is an inscription which is included in their documentation.

There is another hint, also provided by the museum, that suggests that Francesco may have died in Burgundy.

The Este family coat of arms and crest on the reverse of the panel emphasize the heraldic quality of the portrait. The inscription, “v[ot]re tout…francisque” (entirely yours, Francesco), forms a dedication to the portrait’s recipient, perhaps a friend or member of Philip the Good’s court. The “m” and “e,” stand for “marchio estensis,” the title extended to Francesco. The enigmatic scratched inscription in the upper left, “non plus / courcelles,” may refer to the village in Burgundy where Francesco died.

este coat of arms

Wikipedia tells us even more:

The crest emblazen on the reverse of the panel shows a coat of arms consisting of two quarters of the family crest along representations of the honours bestowed to the family by Charles VII of France by letters patent in January 1431. The coat of arms is held up by two lynxes-a pun on the word Leonello, his father’s first name. Another lynx sits blindfolded on the coat of arms. On either side of the animal are the letters M E – assumed to be abbreviations for Marchio Estenis (Marquis of Este), although they could stand for “Marchio Estenses” a title know to have been used by Leonello. On both sides, these letters are bound by tasseled chord. Lettering resembling inscription in the later gothic style above these reads VOIR TOUT (to see all) and is reminiscent of Leonello’s motto Quade Vides ne Vide (Shut your eyes to what you see), the latter described by art historian Robert Fry as indicative of the “idea of astuteness, the most necessary virtue for a ruler of Leonello’s type.

The crest contains Francesco’s name in French, the Burgundian court language, and at the top left hand corner the words non plus courcelles (no longer courcelles). This phrase is established as a later addition but has not been satisfactorily interpreted. It may be a reference to the then French village of Courcelles, in today’s Belgium. The village is located near the site of the Battle of Grandson, a major defeat for Charles the Bold, where the sitter may been killed in 1476 (he is last mentioned in records in 1475). Giving the similarity of the crest to that of his father’s, awell as the significance of various letterings, many art historians see it as indicative of the illegitimate sitter’s aspiration to be recognised as Leonello’s son, with all the entitlements and historical recognition such acceptance would entail.

It looks as if we have pretty well debunked the myth of the inscription on the reverse of this portrait at the Metropolitan Museum indicating Francesco went to England, and we know that Francesco was in the Netherlands in 1475, possibly deceased, 20 years before Nicholas Ewstas was born in Deal.  On the other hand, it is possible that he disappeared from the records in the Netherlands because he went to England, although I find this highly unlikely that he, a member of a royal house, would simply disappear and live a very different kind of life on the coast of Kent, his grandson becoming a mariner.  We have also not addressed the story that a painting in Italy holds an inscription that indicated that Francesco went to England.

Where are the Descendants?

One of our original goals of the Estes DNA project was to see if we could find an Este descendant from Italy to determine whether or not we truly do descend from the d’Este family.  So far, we have found only 1 family of presumed direct line descendants, and that family is relatively unapproachable.

Ernst august prince of hanover

The gentleman is Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, etc., husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, direct paternal descendant of Albert Azzo I d’Este, born about 970.  He has 2 sons.

I wouldn’t even begin to know how to approach this man, although, according to Wiki he seems inclined to urinate in public, so maybe there’s an avenue – a urinal.  (Just kidding – well – about the urinal part – not the urinating part.)

I mean, how exactly does one approach this?  A little curtsey perhaps, then “Excuse me sir, I mean Prince, er, your Highness, but would you mind swabbing the inside of your cheek for this DNA test as I’d like to see if my Estes line is related to you???  Or, you could just pee in the bottle if you’d prefer.”  Pretty please.

Followed by:

“No officer, I swear, I meant the man no harm.  I’m not harassing him.  No, I’m not taking any medications….”

I spoke with a physician in England who has tested in our project by the last name of East, hoping he might feel like he could approach the Prince, but we speculated that there is no “up side” for royalty to test. Plus, I’m thinking that the Prince’s phone number isn’t just listed in the phone book, and if it were, I’m doubting his calls are unscreened.

I suspect that royalty might be concerned about DNA testing showing a break in the line between them and whatever royal houses they descend from, or are supposed to descend from, or about us peasants wanting to gold-dig.  Of course, this does not imply that there is a break, just that royalty might feel they have lots to lose and nothing to gain, except for several American cousins whose acquaintance they just might not be  interested in making.  After all, they know they’re descended from the d’Este line, it’s the rest of us who are having the problem.  You can view the Prince’s genealogy at this link as well as in the footnotes.[i]

If in fact the Prince would match our Estes line, the common ancestor, Alberta Azzo I d’Este would be some 29 or 30 generation in the past.

You’ll notice that some of these lines extend into the 1900s, and probably several more would with appropriate research.  The author of the Genealogics site, Leo van de Pas, is primarily interested in the famous people in this line, while we’re interested in folks who would probably welcome the opportunity to prove descendancy from these royal houses.   Many of these lines have not been fully explored.  Just because no males are listed doesn’t mean there aren’t any.  Furthermore, we’d be most interested in any illegitimate lines, as they would probably be far more interested in proving descendancy from royal lineage via DNA testing.

So, if you just happen to run into Prince Ernst, or any other d’Este descendant, you know, at the market or the yacht club or some royal function that you happen to be attending in Monaco, would you do me the favor of broaching the subject of DNA testing for genealogy?  And in case that goes bad, your American Express card is good for bail money:)

[i] Prince Ernst’s Este genealogy:.

His lineage is as follows beginning with his father:

To follow just the male descendancy of  Alberto Azzo born in 970, click here.



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13 thoughts on “Nycholas Ewstas (c1495-1533), English Progenitor, 52 Ancestors #28

  1. Sorry if a little off point, but although I was in Monaco last September, I noted none of their royalty met our cruise ship. LOL
    I stood in a very long line in the church where Princess Grace and Rainier were wed and laid to rest. Their memorial slabs in the floor were very plain and written in Latin.

  2. Hi Roberta

    You might be able to go back to bronze-age with the Este’s

    Este is a town in venetia North-East italy, it was the capital of the ancient venetic people around 1000BC ( as there was no city of venice until 450AD ), it was part of ancient Este culture plus Polada culture.

    The Este family was thrown out of the town of Este by the venetian government in the middle-ages for being monarchists ( venice was a republic) and they moved to Ferrara and Modena


  3. Loving your series in England, particularly Kent, where I lived for four years, a little after you were in the general vicinity. At the time some could be very touchy about which side of the Medway they came from: Men of Kent roughly to the east of the Medway and the Kentish Men to the west. The quoted Gregory Holyoake first paragraph probably has this in mind. (See Wikipedia – East Kent)
    While the possible d’Este connection seems fanciful and unlikely, by some people’s standards those are limited aspirations. Before the recent FTDNA Y-tree rearrangement, one of the participants in the Y-Haplogroup T project had his earliest known ancestor as Adam ~4000BC. I am itching to see the non-biblical documentary trail!

    • IIRC, it was a person who found that because there are blue and green eyed T ydna people in ethiopia and somali, then they must be from Adam.
      I find this odd since T only arrived in africa a few thousand years ago as it originated in northern iran near the caspian sea.
      There is a paper on this late last year.
      BTW are you T member?

  4. Roberta,

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for including your explanations about Old Style and New Style dates from 1155 to 1751. I’ve read this a dozen times but keep forgetting the time period. It’s always refreshing for a writer/researcher to remind us why dates were written this way.

    Thank you also for the brief paragraph on the origin of surnames since the Norman Conquest. Yours is perhaps the most concise yet informative explanation I’ve read.

    It’s striking how similar the wording of 1533 will is to early American wills were written within the next 200 years. These also paid “tythes” but American Colonial records refer to taxes rather than payments to the church. Since there was no separation between church and state in 1533, is it possible the Nicholas Estes will refers to both? A friend who lived in Germany told me citizens there have part of their taxes go to the church for upkeep yet today.


  5. Wonderful stories. The tale of “An Ewe for Felix Beans” is on equal footing with the possibility of Estes roots in the House of Hannover, I think! Thank you for the beautiful photographs.

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  10. Do you know anything about the family of Vianna Estes (b. 1782 at Cumberland, Providence, Rhode Island; d. 29 Oct 1849 at Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts) ? She married Samuel Bartlett Fiske (b. 12 Feb 1780 at Cumberland, Providence, Rhode Island; d. 08 Jul 1840 at Rochester, New York). Her father was Zaccheus Estes. Are they related to the Estes family in England or the d’Este family of Ferrara, Emilia-Romanga, Italy?

    Ronald Eustice

    Nycholas Ewstas (c1495-1533), English Progenitor

    The Reformation in Dublin, 1536-1558: (from Original Sources)
    By Myles Vincent Ronan top of page 468 (OCR text)
    Braghall do John Bolton do Patrick Nele do John Lawlez do Richard Kelly do I messuage 40 a held by Dean of St Patrick’s Basnet 1 100 Co Kildare Extent of parish church of Tubber Co Kildare made at Ballymore Eustace 1 December 1540 before the said commissioners on the oath of Ewstas Eustace of Ballymore Laghlyn O Dempcy do Edward Ewstas of Ballycutlande Walter Burk Ferald O Galfo of Ardynouth John Ewstas do Thady Oherthyn O Hearne Patrick McRychard do Mortagh O Siolan do Patrick Dewe do Laghlyn Odewe do Patrick O Cullan do Thomas Clerk of Tubber Patrick McKylchryst do Dermot McDonogh do Philip Cristofer Rectory of Tubber 468 THE REFORMATION IN DUBLIN

    “Ewstas (Eustace) of Ballymore”

    Name Estes may have been influence by the Latin/Itailian of the Christian church at time.

    Name research for Kent, would be suggested to be Eustace/Eustice.

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